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AASW opposes Australian seat on UN Human Rights Council

Published: 28 April 2017

Australia’s history of human rights abuses has led the AASW to oppose its bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. The opposition, expressed in a letter to the Commissioner, Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, was delivered by hand in New York last week.

AASW President, Professor Karen Healy AM says the treatment of asylum seekers, including children, in mandatory offshore detention together with the historical and contemporary injustices against Indigenous Australians constitutes significant human rights violations.

“Australia should not have a seat on the Human Rights Council until there is significant change in the current policy direction,” Professor Healy said.

“The Council’s membership must be made up of countries with a commitment and proven track record of protecting human rights and sadly, Australia does not meet this standard.”

Like the UN Human Rights Council, social workers are dedicated to the pursuit of social justice, the enhancement of quality of life, and the development of the full potential of every individual, group and community in society.

Professor Healy said the AASW was part of the international Social Work Day delegation to the United Nations in New York last week, and will continue to advocate against human rights violations.

“We look forward to the day when the Australian government finally listens to the public and the world, and becomes a global leader for human rights,” Professor Healy said.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers